On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I join the governments and people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in marking the seventieth anniversary of the Welles Declaration this July 23, and reaffirm the strong bonds between our countries. Following the Soviet annexation of the three Baltic States in 1940, acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles declared that the United States would not recognize the incorporation of these states into the Soviet Union. More than 50 countries followed the United States in adopting this position. This milestone document supported the Baltic States as independent republics at a critical moment to ensure their international recognition and facilitate the continued operation of their diplomatic missions during 50 years of occupation.
The Welles Declaration is a testament to our longstanding support of the Baltic States and a tribute to each of our countries’ commitment to the ideals of freedom and democracy. As Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania celebrate nearly 20 years of fully restored independence, we honor our Baltic friends as valued NATO allies, strong partners in Europe and on the international stage, and living proof of all that democracy and good governance can achieve.